Greylock Federal Credit Union spotlights CATA artists with purchase of over 160 works
By Kimberly Kirchner Sponsored Content Editor, The Berkshire Eagle
At five of Greylock Federal Credit Union’s branches, the art on the walls is more than decor – it’s a testament to the nonprofit’s commitment to the communities in which it operates, and its willingness to join forces with the many other organizations working to strengthen those communities.
The paintings, drawings and mixed-media pieces brightening public lobbies and employee offices at the Allendale and West Street branches in Pittsfield, as well as the Lenox, Great Barrington and Hudson, N.Y. branches, are original creations by artists working with Community Access to the Arts (CATA), a nonprofit organization that celebrates and nurtures the creativity of people with disabilities. Greylock recently purchased 160 works by more than 100 CATA artists, bringing the credit union’s total collection of CATA pieces to over 200.
Each piece of artwork was created in CATA programs by artists from Berkshire and Columbia counties, including participants from BFAIR, Berkshire County Arc, UCP of Western Massachusetts, Coarc (Columbia County Arc), Cadmus Lifesharing Association, public schools in Pittsfield, Lenox, North Adams, and many more.
The artwork was carefully curated for each location to feature artists who are local to the individual branch. Every artist earned a commission for their work, with additional profits going towards CATA’s robust year-round programs serving more than 1,000 people with disabilities across the community.
“At Greylock, we recognize that art has the power to inspire and enlighten. Through our longstanding collaboration with CATA, we have had the privilege of purchasing and showcasing the outstanding work of CATA artists throughout several of our branches,” said JamieEllen Moncecchi, Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer. “We are beyond proud to support the talent of these artists in our communities, and it is our hope that when our members visit these locations, these works of art will fill them with joy.”
CATA offers inclusive arts workshops for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, brain injuries, and autism, led by professional faculty artists in a wide range of art forms: painting, drawing, sculpture, acting, singing, songwriting, drumming, juggling, yoga, creative writing, photography, modern dance, tap dance, and more. These programs take place in CATA’s art studios in Great Barrington, as well as through its 52 program partners, which include schools, day habilitation programs, disability agencies, nursing homes, community centers, and more.
“I feel peaceful and tranquil and happy when I’m painting,” said Pat Butler, a CATA artist from Berkshire County Arc’s Nu-Opps Brain Injury Program who has worked with CATA for about five years. “It’s an extension of my creativity. CATA really gives me an opportunity to get my creative juices flowing.”
Pat creates many of her paintings in CATA’s Adaptive Painting program designed for artists with significant physical disabilities, working one-on-one with CATA faculty artist Pat Hogan, to put her creative vision on canvas.
Prominent displays of CATA artwork, like those hanging in Greylock branches, as well as public events like performances, readings and art exhibitions, shine a light on the vibrant talents of artists with disabilities.
“I put my heart and soul into everything that I make,” said John Chapdelaine, another artist from Berkshire County Arc. “CATA has helped me get my artwork out there and sell my paintings. Now I even have fans!”
“Art gives people the profound experience of expressing who they are. As a community, we need to seek out experiences that bring us into contact with other people’s perspectives and talents. We’re missing out when we fail to include everyone,” said Margaret Keller, CATA Executive Director. “CATA artists’ brilliant work helps us fill that gap: We get to come into contact with the power of art itself, to capture the fullness of human experience. Our entire community is enriched when people with disabilities share their talents.”
“We’re grateful to Greylock for embracing CATA’s mission of inclusion,” Margaret added. “CATA artists take pride in having their artwork displayed where so many people will admire and appreciate it. We hope visitors will enjoy the personality and artistry that radiates in each painting!”
Some of the strongest appreciation comes from CATA artists themselves. “It makes me feel good—very good— to know people are going to see my paintings,” said Eric Schumann, a longtime CATA participant who has been with the program for over 20 years, as an actor, singer, poet and writer as well as a painter. “I’m a good artist and I’m glad Greylock likes what I painted.”
Katrina Couture, who has been a CATA artist since 2008, has developed a vivid signature style through her vibrant abstract paintings. “I’m a really great artist. I’m happy when people see my paintings. It makes me proud,” she said.
Greylock has purchased five of Katrina’s paintings. When asked how it feels to know her work is hanging where so many people will get to enjoy it, she held nothing back: “It’s amazing!”
This article first appeared in the October 7-8, 2023 edition of The Berkshire Eagle.
Photo by CATA
Connie Most, CATA artist from BCArc Center for Development, with her painting, one of 160 works by CATA artists recently purchased by Greylock Federal Credit Union for display at five of their locations.